October is National Bullying Safety Month

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unfortunately, bullying has been a part of children’s lives probably since the beginning of time. However, what was once thought of as “just a part of childhood” is now seen as a very serious, and sometimes deadly, form of abuse. Adults, as well as peers, need to stand up to bullying, and intervene immediately when it is believed that bullying is occurring. More importantly, let’s find ways to prevent bullying from ever happening in the first place. Here are just a few tips to prevent, and respond, to bullying (including cyberbullying)

1. Understand that it is not a “rite of passage” for children to be bullied. It can have very long-term, even deadly, consequences…not just for the target of the bullying, but also for those who are witnessing it.

2. Pay attention to what is going on both at school and at home. If a child starts fearing going to school or to an activity, ask questions.

3. Have clear discipline policies at school or in sports activities, and make it understood that bullying will not be tolerated, and that there will be consequences, including for Cyberbullying.

4. Have a multi-layered approach for bullying prevention. Teachers, support staff, ALL school employees, parents, and children need to be made aware about what to look for in terms of bullying, and how to prevent it

5. Encourage youth to talk to an adult if they are being bullied, or if they know that bullying is occurring to a friend or classmate

6. Supervise children when they are on-line, and tell them to never pass along harmful information about others

7. Tell children to never give out personal information on-line.

8. Start teaching empathy at an early age (even from birth!) so that children will grow understanding how hurtful it is to harm or tease others.

9. Teach interpersonal skills (again, from an early age). Many children who bully lack the skills to make or keep friendships

10. Create opportunities for children to “do good”, especially children you know or suspect may be engaging in bullying behaviors.

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